Applying Person-Centered, Active Learning Strategies to Improve Participant Engagement in Health Promotion


Michelle D'Abundo, PhD, MSH, CHES, ELI-MP, CPC

Associate Professor of Health Science, Seton Hall University, School of Health and Medical Sciences, South Orange, NJ

CHES 1.0* | ICHWC 1.0 |CDR 1.0

Many professionals are discussing the need to provide person-centered health promotion programming. Yet, most programs are lecture-based and instructor-centered, which have been shown to be less effective and engaging for adults than learner-centered, active learning techniques. While health professionals want to offer more person-centered programming, many don’t know how. The good news is that health programming can be more engaging and effective with some simple changes. In this interactive session, participants will learn how to use the following adult learning principles: self concept, readiness to learn, problem and solution-centeredness, experience, motivation and why, what and how to make programs more engaging and effective. Attendees will also learn autonomy-supportive teaching and coaching strategies informed by self-determination theory to increase learner engagement, interest and enjoyment while achieving programmatic goals. During the session, attendees will revise a current health program by applying a template focused on creating a more engaging, person-centered adult learning experience.

Presenter Bio(s):

Michelle serves as a success coach and an adult education program development consultant. She earned a doctorate in Adult Education from the University of Georgia (PhD), Masters of Science in Health at University of North Florida (MSH), and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from American University. Michelle is a certified coach, Energy Leadership Index™ Master Practitioner (ELI-MP) and a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). She previously served as an Associate Professor in Public Health Studies at University of North Carolina Wilmington and as School Health Education Program Director at Salisbury University. She started teaching adults 20 years ago as a health educator. Throughout her career, she has taught fitness classes, public health programs, presented at conferences, facilitated workshops, and served as a professor since 2004. In health education, we were always told to tailor our programs to the participants, but we were never taught how. When she found her way to a PhD program in Adult Education, she got answers about how to increase engagement and improve the outcomes of her health education programs. She learned how to effectively plan, implement and evaluate programs for adult learners. As she continued her career, she started to blend adult education with positive psychology, mindfulness, health behavior theory and self-determination theory. Her research and projects have resulted in many publications about leadership, adult learning, online teaching, wellbeing, mindfulness, and exercise motivation. In her coaching and consulting practice, Michelle is fortunate to work with successful clients and professional organizations in many different fields, including health promotion, STEM, academics, and construction.